If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we have very little control of the world around us. That makes things like New Year’s resolutions seem naive at best and obsolete at worst. Yet, here we are in a fresh, albeit still confounded, new year, and it feels impossible not to at least hope for the future.
As confusing, chaotic and damaging that 2020 was, it gave our global systems pause. It challenged us to consider what we really want and need. It mirrored back to us our own reality, and made a lot of the frivolous consumerism and distracted daily routines appear as they really are. I really do hope for a better world, now and in the future. I don’t have control of much, but I do have control of myself, my household, and my daily choices – and, at least in my life, they do matter.
My goal this year is to be more sustainable, and have our household do so as well. We’ve done the basic things like lugging around hydroflasks and swapping out cleaning products, but I’m still a bit shocked by the amount of trash two people produce every week. Now with a third on the way, we’ve started taking further steps to get our family on board with being conscious about how much we throw away and doable swaps we can adopt to soften the blow.
One of the easiest ways to reduce waste and save money is to pack your lunch. We bought a bunch of to-go containers and a couple cool items that make bringing our lunch super easy. My favorite is this cool stackable lunch box, which has an insulated bag and silverware.
There’s also a lot of cool ways to store the food you have and bring snacks. Instead of Ziploc-type bags, we bought some reusable zip-top plastic bags that can simply be washed in between uses. Stasher bags are awesome, but they’re expensive. These cheap ones from Amazon worked fine for us (although not as thick/sturdy as the Stasher ones) and are a great intro to reusable storage.
Another free food storage is reusing glass jars! I wash and sanitize spaghetti sauce jars, coconut oil jars, etc. and use them for leftover sauces, tea, coffee, broth, or anything that fits. They’re also great to take camping, so that you can bring smaller portions of items from home and either wash and reuse or recycle.
Water & Beverage Bottles
Everybody’s got a hydroflask these days, but it’s still worth mentioning. I have a large and small one, so I can leave the house with a cup of coffee, some homemade sparkling water, etc. and a big container of water too. My husband also recently bought this very cool coffee-cup-style mug, which I use almost every day. Once COVID is over, too, most cafes and coffee shops are expected to start accepting personal cups again, so it will be great for that too!
Travel Silverware & Straws
We seem to generally be in agreement about leaving plastic straws behind for the sea turtles, but we throw out a lot of silverware too. My lunchbox comes with silverware, but I tucked in a metal straw too and sometimes bring a travel cutlery pack with me too. I chose this one, which has a bamboo fork, spoon, knife and chopsticks, and is super easy to travel with. I also threw in a short metal straw like this one too.
Compost & Recycling
Composting is my dream. We still haven’t done so, but have started a garden outside that will be using the compost we will eventually be producing upstairs in our kitchen. However, we do have a separate recycling bin, trash, and space for a compost bin when the time comes. For us, it’s not about being perfect – it’s just about doing what is in our power, budget, and daily routine that can make a small impact in the world we live in.